Citing previous concerns from residents living near Jamaica Bay regarding a previous proposal to extend an existing runway at JFK Airport, a local Assemblyman is asking the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to consider new alternatives to the proposal.
State Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Ozone Park) recently asked the Port Authority in a letter to reconsider its current proposal to extend a 400-acre runway expansion into Jamaica Bay.
The issue sparked a debate between local residents and the Port Authority last year after the Regional Plan Association (RPA), which is an independent research and advocacy group, came up with the proposal as a result of its published report examining aviation growth in New York City.
The report predicted that passenger volume in New York would grow from 104 million passengers in 2010 to 150 million passengers in the 2030s and, without improvements to the current aviation infrastructure, could potentially cost billions in lost wages and business income.
However, Goldfeder had voiced his objection to the plan, citing the environmental impact that it would have on the bay area and the potential detriment it would cause to local residents; part of the plan, he stated, involved filling a ‘significant’ portion of the bay.
“This plan has the potential to affect local neighborhoods and a wildlife refuge,” Goldfeder said. “Air traffic has greatly increased in recent years, and I understand the need for expansion, but this proposal has too many negative implications. I urge the Port Authority to explore a number of different potential solutions that could accomplish the same goal with less impact on our local families and environment.”
Dan Mundy, Sr. of Jamaica Bay EcoWatchers, a local watchdog group that focuses on protecting Jamaica Bay, said that he had not heard any indication that the plan was closer to going forward than it was when it was first proposed last year.
In fact, he said he had been hearing word that the Port Authority was simply ‘feeling out’ whether the proposal would be a good idea after gaining input from local residents near the affected area.
Mundy expressed hope that this appeared to be an indication that the Port Authority would consider backing off of the proposal, and perhaps consider an alternative one.
However, Mundy reiterated that his group was fully against any such proposed expansion into Jamaica Bay from JFK, stating that the expansion would have a detrimental impact on the bay area.
“We’ll be keeping an eye on the situation,” Mundy said. “But we are strictly opposed to something that would destroy the area around the bay.
A statement from the Port Authority to The Forum on the issue said, “The Port Authority will review this proposal and will be sure to take the Assemblyman’s concerns into consideration as it conducts an aviation capacity study to seek ways to meet the region’s growing long-term passenger needs at our airports. The bi-state agency understands JFK’s proximity to Jamaica Bay and the wildlife it supports, and we recognize the importance of continuing to serve as a good environmental steward.”
By Jean-Paul Salamanca